Archive: July, 2010

The sleeping problem

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 31, 2010, 4:14 PM | comments: 0

Baby sleep is pretty challenging, especially in those first two or three months. But at that stage, it's mostly because the parents aren't getting any. The baby is getting what he or she needs, just not in long overnight stretches.

On my birthday, we left Simon with his Uncle Joe for the afternoon while we caught a movie. Something he said when got back has stuck with me since... "Man, that kid won't sleep unless conditions are perfect." He couldn't have been more right, and four weeks later, the situation has not improved.

Simon's required sleep conditions are that he's swaddled, the pacifier is in his mouth and (preferably) there's some white noise. I suppose to be more precise, those are the conditions he needs to fall asleep. Once he's sleeping, he could be naked anywhere in complete silence. But geting there is what's hard. The outcome of this is that if he wakes up, for any reason, he won't likely go back to sleep. He gets out of the swaddle, the binky goes somewhere he can't find it, and the Sleep Sheep has itself gone to sleep. If it happens frequently, particularly in the early dark hours of the evening, that generally means Diana gets up countless times to re-swaddle/bink/sheep. It's probably not good for either one of them. I'm useless in part because I don't hear him, and during the week Diana takes the overnight feedings so I'm not useless for work.

"They" say that this is the result of building certain requirements for sleep, and the solution is to break these requirements by getting them off the ideal conditions. That means lots of crying and reassurance that they'll be OK. Diana has a very visceral and intense reaction to his crying, so naturally that's very hard for her. I don't care for it either, but as we speak, Diana has earplugs and is napping, and I'm trying to get him to cry it out for his nap.

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of complications at the moment. For one, the poor kid is teething, so at times he just feels lousy to begin with. The other problem is that his manual dexterity isn't quite good enough to position things in an ideal way for him to put in his mouth, which helps him self-sooth, especially when his teeth bother him. He's pretty close, and I've seen him get his pacifier oriented right, but mostly he ends up getting which ever part he can in his mouth. There are a few things he should probably be doing on his own that he isn't yet, including rolling over, but given his extreme weight, he might not be strong enough yet. The other issue is that when he's not swaddled, the first thing he does is take out his pacifier, so there's a big chicken-egg scenario playing out there.

So we're working through it. Even while observing him so far this afternoon, I've noticed that his favorite stuffed animal, a long fabric thing with a tiger head on the end, seems to offer him some comfort. I'm sure he'll get there eventually, but it's hard to hear him cry. The end of an era

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 29, 2010, 10:14 PM | comments: 0

It made the papers today... is more or less gone as a company. I put two and a half years into the place, which is nothing compared to those who put most of their professional career into it. I can only imagine what a sad day it was, with one last trip to the bowling alley to suck down some beers.

I probably learned more in my time there than I had at most of my other jobs combined, as far as software development goes. I've never had a job where I was surrounded by that many smart people. It was so positive that the dev team, topping out around 16 I think, had almost no turn over the entire time I was there (except for one guy, who wrote shitty code anyway). The only downside for me was that it was sometimes hard for me to get the really interesting work, as it was largely taken up by the senior guys with a stake in the company. Still, it was a great time to get better at what I did.

There were a couple of strategic blunders that occurred before the first round of layoffs, that I believe led to the ultimate end of the company. There were also some other things we chased that had questionable return on investment. But regardless of those details, the problem was a more fundamental one: Investors want growth, and today that seems to be the only reason to even start a company. Start it, grow it, sell it or IPO it. That's a shitty way to be in business.

I say that because it's ridiculous to expect that every business has to grow. A company isn't permitted to simply reach a level of sustainable execution the moment that there are outside investors involved. That's stupid, because no matter how many MBA's you throw at a problem, sometimes there is a place you can plateau, doing something really well, making money at it, and that's that. I personally believe that ICOM could have persisted a very long time without a staffing blitz (and without chasing a secondary business that was addictive like crack, and created the illusion of growth). They never had that luxury when there were investors involved.

In talking with a friend last week about the end, and the time he invested in it, he felt as though he couldn't see the end from the inside, and felt silly for it. I think that's being a little harsh on yourself, as that's something we all do. It's like being in a bad relationship, where you may stay in it just because of the time you invest in it, or because you live with the other person. I'd even say that it was admirable that so many people there felt strongly enough about the business to stay in it as long as they did. It's a shame they couldn't have made some of the higher level decisions instead of the execs.

The advice I'd give to my former co-workers, having been through more layoffs than I care for, is to start by sleeping in. There's something cosmically freeing about not having to get up in the morning in that situation. The next thing to do is look forward to the day when your new job is free of all the constraints of your last job. Sure there will be new challenges, but chances are, the new possibilities will be rewarding and exciting.

And of course, if any of you are interested in the Evil Empire, get your resume to me and I'll be happy to submit it internally. There are literally thousands of job openings, and Microsoft would hugely benefit from you working there. And the benefits kick ass. And you'll get a free phone if you act now. :)

It was a great part of my career, but trust me when I say there are bigger things in your future. Long live ICOM!

Being rock and roll when you're being a parent

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 29, 2010, 9:32 PM | comments: 0

I'm very excited to report that, in the last five days, we've gone out twice in the evening, with Simon. Sunday was the PEPS group I mentioned previously, and tonight, my officemate invited us over for some grill action at their place. Against all odds, Simon took a little nap on Diana's shoulder, and we didn't leave until 8. I'll say it again... 8! It also gives us a little bit of context about the different stages of kidness, as Aaron's kids are 5 and 7.

As Diana said on Sunday night, it's a little surreal to consider that this is our life. It's one of the things that I've found so overwhelming lately. We have friends with kids, and in fact most of our social interaction here exists solely because we're new parents (work friends not withstanding). For someone who has mostly had friends in their 20's without kids, even as I went into the 30's, that's pretty strange. I've always identified more with younger people in the pre-children stage of life, generally in their 20's. Maybe that's why it was so cool last weekend to meet people our age just starting out with a baby.

But there's a part of me that worries about keeping my edge, and some days I feel like I've lost it a bit. I'm not just talking about the days when I had awesome hair or visible piercings either. In the early parts of my career, much of my success was derived from being a bit rock and roll. It wasn't so much a persona as much as it was an attitude. It wasn't just about questioning the establishment, it was about successfully challenging it.

Now here's the weird part of it... Being a dad hasn't made me more conservative and go-with-the-flow. It has done just the opposite! Just as I was compelled to challenge corporate America ten years ago, I now challenge what you're "supposed to do" as a parent. I don't do it to be different or to spite The Man, but I do it because I'm not content to just be handed information as the holy word.

This desire to look above and beyond what is generally accepted is rock and roll. This week I spent some time wondering how that would affect my career. It's no secret that Microsoft has a reputation for being "big, slow and dumb," but the exciting thing is that you can see in various parts of the company that while it may have been true at one time or another, it has changed a great deal. That's where being rock and roll in your 30's has advantages. Not only do you desire to challenge The Man, but you also know how to sell it and work the system. Anyone could have said, "Yeah, we should make a video game system," but it took someone to understand that the way to sell it was, "Hey, this Xbox could be our ticket into living rooms everywhere!"

The shock to my life's well-established comfort zone has in many ways knocked the complacency out of me. I'm feeling more energized than I had before, and I'm starting to figure out how and where I can have impact at work, in my hobby-business and in the life of my baby boy. I fully expect to do some really stupid things along the way, but it's better than doing nothing.

Coasting For Kids is today!

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 29, 2010, 11:00 AM | comments: 0

If you haven't been paying attention on CoasterBuzz, the Coasting For Kids event to raise money for Give Kids The World is today, happening simultaneously at all 11 Cedar Fair parks. Last year's event was a blast at Cedar Point alone, and it's really exciting to see it now across the entire chain.

GKTW hosts families of kids with life-threatening illnesses for a good time in Central Florida, giving them the chance to just let loose and forget about hospitals and medical bills. In other words, kids get to be kids! Not only do they have wonderful villas to stay in on the property (as well as other resort amenities), but the theme parks work with them as well. It's really something a lot of healthy people take for granted, since most of us don't have to ever consider a future where we might not have our children.

A friend of mine had a tough go of it growing up, to the extent where doctors were advising her parents to make sure she had good life insurance. As it turns out, she lived to tell about it, but I can't imagine being that age, confined to a wheel chair and not knowing if you had a future. Working with kids as a coach, that story hit pretty close to home, and given GKTW's proximity to the amusement industry, you can see why I'm passionate about it.

So if you can spare even a few bucks today, please help us out. Having met the president of the organization last year, I can tell you that it's run like a super-efficient business, and they make every dollar count. You can donate instantly online here:

Thank you for helping out!

Teething is back

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 9:36 PM | comments: 0

Simon is turning out to be a ridiculously happy baby most of the time. I love his noises and his giggles and such. He's a lot of fun to be around.

But it sucks when his mouth hurts and you can only do so much to help him deal with it. I mean, when he's hungry or tired, you know, he cries but he's not in pain or anything. It's such a crappy feeling when you can't fix it. Fortunately it seems to come and go (though the drooling is pretty constant).

Overwhelming life

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 26, 2010, 9:42 PM | comments: 0

Starting Friday, when I met with a former co-worker that was in town to interview with the Evil Empire, I started on several days of enormous reality around my life that has completely overwhelmed me. This series of events kind of made me numb today, incapable of engaging in much of anything. It's not about anything bad really. I'm trying to sort out in my head how I got to feeling this way so I can process it and keep moving, but I'm not there yet.

Suffice it to say, the radical change of the last year has me exhausted. It's not that I want to go back to my old life, I just want to feel more comfortable in the one I have! It all began with a conversation I had on Friday night...

Diana's hot moms club

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 25, 2010, 9:12 PM | comments: 0

Diana has been going to a PEPS group now for many weeks, and their official gatherings have come to a close. To celebrate, one of the moms hosted a barbecue today, and all of the babies and dads were there as well.

It was an interesting group, and most of the parents were in their 30's, with Diana and one other mom at the upper end at 40. It really changes the perspective of parenthood and timing, because not only were all of these moms attractive and youthful, but it shows that it's OK to have kids a little later than what was typical for previous generations. For all my feelings about getting a late start, I suppose I feel like I'm not alone at all.

Perhaps one of the great things about the so-called later start is that life has a way of being generally more stable. Granted, this might partly be the geography (I'd be shocked if the median income around here was less than $100k), but these new families aren't burdened by student loans or tight budgets. Starting in your 30's probably means that you've got a career established and in progress, money isn't a constant worry, and you're less of a moron than you were in your 20's. In other words, it's a much better time to have a baby. One couple in particular, like us, got married in their 30's and it was more obvious that they were a good fit. Marriage and baby-making need not be an endeavor exclusive to 20-somethings.

Not surprisingly, one-third of the dads work at Microsoft, and one of the moms is a "v-dash" (vendor, because their e-mail starts with v-).

Developmental joy and angst

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 25, 2010, 1:01 PM | comments: 0

It probably seems like I say this every other day, but I find it remarkable to see Simon doing new things and watching him develop. It's almost a daily occurrence. For example, he's creating new sounds almost every day, and he's as surprised as we are when he makes them. It's also cool to see how his manual dexterity gets better every day. He's getting closer to the point where he can consistently take his pacifier out of his mouth and return it. You can see him look at it, analyze, and figure out how to position it.

Then there's the ugly side of development, which we call teething. While most kids his age don't have the two teeth he does, we're pretty sure that he's ready to pop a few more. As with the last time, the drool volume has increased dramatically, and he's cranky and tired a lot for no obvious reason. It's not fun to see this happy kid be unhappy.

According to some stuff that Diana has been reading, there are a number of these developmental things coming together that may even allow him to sleep overnight. We still swaddle him, because he clearly derives comfort from it (and really, don't we all like to be wrapped up warm and cozy?), and we give him the pacifier because it helps him fall asleep. The problem is that he tends to panic without it, so at some point we need to wean him from both eventually. Having his arms free would be OK if his first instinct weren't to take out the pacifier! But once he gets more coordinated, he can just as easily put it back. Sometimes we want to rush him for our benefit, and we have to remember he's not quite to five months yet.

Seeing a little human develop like this is fascinating when you do it every day. It won't be long before he's walking around, dating and going to college. Gotta enjoy this while we can!

What's with the bad dreams?

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 24, 2010, 10:02 AM | comments: 0

For almost two weeks now, I've been having some really disturbing dreams, the kind where you wake up feeling distraught and upset. I hate waking up that way, especially since the first thing I see is usually Diana and Simon.

Dreams are often the product of your subconscience, so I wonder what's going on in my brizzle lately. There are some things on my mind that do require closure, but I'm not entirely sure that it's anxiety. I'm generally pretty happy with life's direction as of late.

After a particularly bad dream, I had one after that this morning that was completely strange. I was talking with my first real girl friend, who I haven't had contact with in something like 17 years, and we picked up conversations as if no time had passed. She also had blonde hair that was still very 90's, which is odd. But the real strangeness was that I was photographing a very skinny Kelly Osborne, who was all self-conscious and having low self-esteem issues, all while I was having problems getting the off-camera flash to work right and my assistants from some agency were making fun of me. Where does this kind of shit come from?

I'd like to know why I can't just have sexy dreams like everyone else. :) Or maybe that's just it, that people don't. I'm lucky to have those kinds of dreams once a year!

Imogen Heap live Seattle improv

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, July 21, 2010, 7:59 PM | comments: 0

Imogen Heap has been doing live improv at her shows, making stuff up and then posting it on her Web site to raise money for charities in each city. She just posted the Seattle track, and you can listen to it in its entirety online. It's pretty cool to see her just keep layering stuff together and coming up with a song, and makes an interesting souvenir as well. She's ridiculously talented.

I had a long talk today with Simon

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 7:29 PM | comments: 0

With the certainty of Emma's passing today, a hundred different things went swirling through my head. Since my first year coaching was 1997, obviously I've seen kids grow up and be 20-somethings. Some kids are married, some are rocket scientists, and some are even mothers. When you get a few months to spend with them, you get to see how their personalities develop. Sometimes they do brilliant things, as well as stupid things. You also get to see the kinds of relationships they have with their parents.

I've always taken the responsibility of coaching very seriously, even with the kids that were a total pain in the ass, because I know there are long-term consequences. Some of the most influential people in my life were teachers or mentors in one way or another, even if I didn't spend a lot of time with them. I very much have the realization as a new father that the impact is far greater when it's your own kid.

When I was seeing a therapist around the time of my divorce, one of his themes was that much of your social skill base comes from your parents. For example, people who stay in broken relationships filled with the toxicity of guilt and mistrust, often do so because they observed their parents do the same thing (a case for not staying together "for the kids," by the way). Imagine my concern with that, since I only had monthly weekend visitation with my dad, and my relationship with my step-dad was not great either. I have an incomplete blueprint for full-time child-father relationships.

The thing I have observed about these relationships time and time again is that there is definitely a sweet spot for involvement and trust. No involvement will lead a kid to destructive behavior, obviously, but the opposite extreme can be just as bad. One of my former kids had a great dad in terms of his involvement, to the extent he missed only one game of hers through high school, club and college, but he was so hard on her about everything. I could see her desire grow through college to just be her own person, potentially doing stupid things just to make the point.

The investigation into Emma's drowning already suggests that she made some bad decisions. That's tragic. Emma was a baby once too, and when I knew her, a teenager. I never imagined at the time that this could happen to her. So when I had some quiet time with Simon, even though I'm sure he didn't understand, I told him that I loved him dearly, but some day I would have to trust him to make good decisions for himself. It's hard to imagine at the start of this journey that there's only so much I can do before he's on his own. I'm going to do my best to give him what he needs to make good decisions. Beyond that, I'll have to be at peace with the idea that it will ultimately be up to him.

Remembering Emma

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 19, 2010, 10:07 PM | comments: 0

The news from Cleveland is that a female body washed ashore today, and unless it's just coincidence, it's probably Emma's. Her disappearance from a Lake Erie boat has been on my mind since my former assistant coach, Liz, messaged me via Facebook. As obvious as the logical outcome of this sort of thing is, I wanted to believe and hope that it would end differently.

When Emma played for me, she was only a sophomore. While the pool of kids to pick from was not strong to begin with, I wasn't crazy about pulling up a sophomore to varsity, but not having her up there would've been holding her back. Even though she was one of those many kids I've coached over the years going through an obvious awkward phase, taller than average with strange proportions, she could beat the crap out of the ball.

She was such a goof, too, and made us laugh constantly. She did buckle down and get "serious" when she had to (most of the time), but it was neat how being the "baby" of the team also kept me and the older kids from taking ourselves too seriously all of the time.

We also worried about her constantly, because her dad was so hard on her. We actually had to start doing closed practices just to keep him out so she could focus. The pressure was pretty intense, and I could only imagine to what extent. God knows he suggested to the athletic director at the time that I needed to do more yelling.

I didn't have much contact with Emma after that season (Facebook for grown-ups didn't come around until a few years later). It seems she transferred to another school with just a few months left in her senior year, according to one of the papers, to live with her mom, whom I never met. She didn't go to college, but worked at a gym and was a "ring girl" for some kind of cage fighting. Before her Facebook profile came down, it looked like she was like anyone else that age, going to parties and doing the silly things one does in that time of their life. I just can't wrap my head around it ending like this.

Like so many of the kids that I've had the privilege to coach, I'm glad I got to know Emma, if only for a period of six months. Just as you hope to leave a lasting impression with every kid, every kid leaves an impression on you as well. I'm thankful for that.

Here are a few photos of Emma from 2005...

Here's one that someone uploaded to Facebook, apparently taken in December...

The old RadioShack and the tinkering days

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 18, 2010, 4:58 PM | comments: 0

There was a story in Wired about the changing of RadioShack from an electronics parts store for hobbyists to a cell phone retailer. It's an interesting read from the standpoint that it really demonstrates the difference in the way we view technology.

I remember as a young kid, someone bought me one of those electronics kits, where you could wire up different circuits using pre-cut wires between the spring terminals that connected to the transistors, capacitors, resisters and what not. It was fascinating for me to build the circuits, but I never took the time to understand what they did, or why they did it (something I kind of regret to this day). It did at least give me some kind of basic respect for electronics though. I remember spending about ten bucks (hard to come by when I was 15) on a metal project box, a button, some wires, a light and a battery holder, to make my own model rocket launching switch. I also bought parts to wire some external speaker jacks to my very first boombox (which was red).

I liked tinkering with stuff in those days, and it became even more interesting for me when I could program a computer. I had my Atari 8-bit computer starting in grade eight I think, and the Apple II+ by grade nine. It's still funny that I didn't make that something I did for a living until four years after I graduated from college.

But as the article states, people don't have that tinkering mentality the way they used to. I can't imagine messing directly with electronics these days, aside from perhaps building my own cabling and such for video gear (another thing I really enjoyed in my broadcast career). Programming for the Web has really satisfied my need to tinker, and the idea of making something for a mobile device is appealing too.

The story brought back a lot of memories. It also makes me realize how much we take for granted things like iPhones.

The Social Network trailer

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 16, 2010, 9:32 PM | comments: 0

You know, movie trailers for the most part suck. Not as bad as they did in the 80's, but they've largely become unimaginative and predictable. I dig this one.

Here's the trailer for the forthcoming movie about Mark Zuckerburg and Facebook. It's a pretty damn good trailer. I've gotta say that, regardless of how much of it is actually true, I'm really looking forward to it.

Robust morale event budget

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 16, 2010, 8:24 PM | comments: 0

I've said half-jokingly that the only place I ever drink is at work. While there's some truth to that, it's more the point that the company does a lot of morale events. Sometimes they're simple get togethers in a courtyard between buildings, for big events there are huge blowouts, and some are more intimate outings for small groups.

I really had a good time doing the electric go-kart thing with my fellow dev team members just before Simon was born, but yesterday's event was even better. A ridiculous country club for millionaires has an 18-hole mini-golf course, meaning an actual grass course. It was absolutely beautiful, with views of downtown Seattle and Bellevue, the Olympics and much of Lake Washington and the sound. The weather was just perfect, too.

After an exquisitely catered brunch (complete with mimosas), we organized ourselves into groups to hit the mini-links. I grouped with my officemate Aaron, and two of the galleries devs, Teresa and Albert. I was surprised to putt well enough to win in our group (other groups didn't even keep score), and Teresa was just a few strokes behind me. Aaron had another ten, and Albert had 20 more or something, but overall, we had a good time.

Then afterward, we gathered in the bar for more beverages and good conversation. It was refreshingly not about work, too. Even though we all have lunch together on most days, it's really nice to get out in a social situation with these folks. There's a lot of talented and interesting people there. It's one of the reasons I wish I had a house, because back home I would have thrown a party for everyone by now.

STO is a pretty neat place to be. I'm not sure what my role may be in the long term, but I dig it there.


posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 15, 2010, 10:04 AM | comments: 0

From Tracy Bonham's new album, Masts of Manhatta (first track is free on Amazon MP3):

"They've got SUV's that ride up into your asshole."

I don't even know what that means, but it amuses me to no end.

Further travel investigations

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, July 14, 2010, 9:51 PM | comments: 0

Diana looked at fares some more for a trip to see her dad. Still not finding anything even remotely solid. To get off cheap it would require a solid week, which is way too long for me to go without my wife and my little man. I can't easily go, because the fares for a shorter meet-up stay would be twice as much. Sigh. I really wanted to see his new place and go to Carowinds.

I have to start thinking about where to fly to for Holiday World. I had a "holy crap that's only two months from now" moment about that today. I think I might be OK with a longer drive if it means I can get away without connections (what with the baby and all), but I haven't really looked yet.

Disconnection and making travel connections

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 10:05 PM | comments: 0

With the burst of summer we had last week, I have to say that we've been feeling a little disconnected from the world, particularly as it related to our "normal" summer customs. Cedar Point, friends, back yards, patio lunches at our favorite restaurants... we're not getting any of that this year. The feeling of being disconnected is even greater for Diana, who doesn't have the benefit of going to a day job every day and interacting with people who aren't infants. It has been a tough adjustment, that's for sure.

We've started to put together some travel plans, though unfortunately it doesn't look like any of them help us out now, when we need it most. We looked into doing a Cleveland run, but airfare is insane with that short of a notice. We also looked into one or both of us going to visit her dad in the Carolinas, but again, way too expensive. That's a bummer.

We have booked our first air travel though with Simon. We'll be going to LA next month for Diana's cousin's wedding. This will be a pretty short trip, since we have no idea what to expect when it comes to air travel with an infant. It's a good trial run for the other trips later in the year. Sadly, this means no Knott's Berry Farm.

I lined up our RV for the event at Holiday World, which we're sharing with the Jandes family again. That was easily one of the most favoritest things we did last year, even with Diana pregnant. I think this will be Simon's first carousel ride, which is very exciting.

Then after that, late in the season, we'll go to Cleveland for some amount of time, and part of that will be at Cedar Point for our event there. I think we'll do a whirlwind tour of visits with folks then. There won't be much in the way of relaxing, I suspect, but we'll get our roller coasters on and see all that is familiar again.

The plan after Thanksgiving is to do a week at Universal Orlando, and really play that one casually. Lazy trips to the pool, City Walk dining, and of course a trip through Hogsmeade. I'm counting on my now-Central Florida based BFF to help us out with Simon so Diana and I can at least get on a few things together. Hopefully we won't freeze our tits off like we did last year.

So we're doing our best to cope with change. It's so hard to reconcile being thrilled about it while missing the old life so much.

Sleigh Bells (guilty pleasure)

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 13, 2010, 9:03 AM | comments: 0

I've been listening to Sleigh Bells (a band) lately, and I feel a little dirty for it. It's hard to categorize, but I first heard it on XM. It's like, Industrial meets Jay-Z meets pop girl singer meets... hell if I know. It's noisy, will likely break your speakers, over-modulated and has a sweet sounding (and cute with tattoos) singer.

And it has almost no staying power or long-term value. It's ear candy. There are glimmers of actual song-writing in there. I think they could do something more. But I like it anyway. I'm sure I'll get bored with it eventually.

New baby bath tub ends a great day

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 11, 2010, 9:58 PM | comments: 1

Diana scored a new (used) baby tub for $12, and Simon loves it. He just splashed away like crazy, and had plenty of room to kick and have a good time. I'm glad, because he didn't seem to be having as much fun in his old tub because he was so wedged into it.

Diana did a moms' night out with other moms tonight, so after bath time, I got Simon dressed and we played on the floor for a little bit, before sending him to bed around 6:30. I had a really good day with him, and it was really well balanced. I also had him while Diana went grocery shopping. I didn't get up until a little before 9 (I did his midnight-ish feeding), so I was well rested. We had good feeding times, some good laughs and play time, and he went to bed for me like an angel, twice.

Meanwhile, I found time to do some code work, and I felt accomplished. With the warm but not sweltering weather, the apartment was cool too. We didn't do any couple stuff really today, but it was still a pretty good day overall. In fact, Diana gave me high praise today for being a heavily engaged dad, which is apparently something a lot of dads aren't good at. The moms she meets with ask questions like, "You left your baby with your husband? How is that possible?" That's weird to me, because I love to spend time with Simon, including the "work" of feeding, changing and bathing him.

Hooray for a great day!

The window for just the right photography moment

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 11, 2010, 1:05 PM | comments: 0

In the digital age, we're so not bound to "wasting" film, and I think removing that financial constraint allows us to just snap away. That's a really important thing, because the window for getting exactly the right shot is entirely too small.

This photo, featured on a Web site I frequent, is an example of what I'm talking about. I can say with a high degree of confidence that even a fraction of a second before or after this shot, her eyes and body language would not have conveyed the same thing. That she's pretty doesn't matter, because it's the feeling in the eyes that makes the photo. You can look at a thousand wedding photos of various couples and never see a look that intense or sincere.

Indeed, capturing that moment is hard even for the best photographer, because it comes and goes too quickly. (Disclaimer: It's a little easier with babies and small children, I think because they aren't emotionally developed enough to guard against that sincerity, which is sad for us adults.)

Simon goes to the pool

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 10, 2010, 6:58 PM | comments: 0

With the nice weather and all, Diana wanted to get Simon out to the pool. Honestly, because they were having some kind of resident appreciation nonsense or something, and many of the neighborhood kids annoy me, I had no desire to go up there. I just wasn't feeling like myself. But you know, I gotta be there for the moments!

We got him all lubed up with sunscreen and swimmies, and took him to the pool. He wasn't sure what to make of it. He was so overwhelmed by the giant beach balls, the bright sun and the kids running around. I took the first steps into the water, and he surprisingly did not lift his legs up. Diana came in and took over, sitting on the steps and having him stand waist deep. No protest, and really no reaction at all. Until some jackass kid started splashing all over, which caused some crying. (The same kid greeted Diana to the pool by trying to squirt her in the face with a squirt gun. See previous comment about asshole kids.)

But overall, he did a really good job of just taking it in and soaking up the experience of it all. That's the thing that I find so fascinating about him lately, is that you can see him observing and working things out in his head. I'm not suggesting that he's unique or anything, but it's the first time I've ever seen it happen up close. I've been fascinated to watch his cousin Nina do "smart stuff" that seems ahead of schedule too, like do shapes and colors on Joe's iPhone. Considering how fragile and helpless they are when they're born, it's so neat to see.

I'm glad Diana helped me overcome my lack of motivation today. :)

Out, together

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 9, 2010, 9:49 PM | comments: 0

Just as the day was winding down at work, my office-mate, Aaron, asked if we wanted to meet him and his family for dinner. It just so happened that Simon achieved an unusually high level of napping today (perhaps because of the shots yesterday), so I nervously agreed, not sure what to expect.

So we got out of the house together, and despite being embarrassingly late due to a spit-up incident that involved Diana's clothes, actually had dinner with non-relatives. That's a first for us. I'm glad Aaron suggested it, and it's about time the wives met each other after this long.

Simon had a few urges to melt down, but didn't. It was funny to see him watch Aaron's kids (7 and 5) so closely. He slept on the way home, had a bottle, and many giggles when I changed him (have I mentioned this is about my favorite time with him?). He wanted nothing to do with staying up after that, but it was closing in on 8 by the time he went down. That has to be some kind of record. Hoping for good sleep tonight, and later rising, with any luck.

Simon is starting to consistently react positively to me coming home, which as you can imagine is about the neatest feeling in the world. As soon as I start to talk to him, he gets excited and smiles with his two tiny teeth. It's the cutest thing ever. It's also a huge relief, because I worry a lot that he doesn't bond with me much since I'm gone during the day. Now I can confidently say that he knows who I am.

As for getting out together, I think that's going to continue to get easier as he gets into a sleep routine. Part of it is that he isn't quite able to sleep just anywhere, anytime. As Joe put it when he watched him on my birthday, "The kid can't sleep unless everything is perfect!" So true. He needs to be tightly swaddled in the Miracle Blanket, binky in the mouth and sometimes even white noise is required. And no way will he sleep next to us on the couch or in our arms the way he used to. But he's going back to being more flexible, if slowly.

Simon's average melon

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 8, 2010, 11:24 PM | comments: 1

Simon had his four-month check-up today, and he's still in the 96th percentile for weight at a little more than 18 pounds. His length was up there in the 80th I think. His head size was right near the middle of the scale, so yay for that. It appears he did not inherit my genes for a gigantic head.

Go ahead, make whatever jokes you'd like. I probably deserve it.

Lebron's fall from grace started before he left Cleveland

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 8, 2010, 10:55 PM | comments: 0

When I was coaching volleyball in 2005 at a little Catholic school in Akron, some of my kids indicated they had at various times hung out with Lebron James, since his school was a source of boys to date for the all-girls school. They described him as someone relatively down to earth, even if he did have a posse. And for all of the return trips to "St. V's" and bike donations in Akron, you had the impression that this kid could in fact be the next Michael Jordan. He had a humble class about him.

In his first years in the NBA, despite enormous expectations and pressure, he generally conducted himself with a certain grace that was frankly uncharacteristic of any kid who wasn't even old enough to buy a beer. His mother was a bit of an embarrassing side show, but he seemed to really grow into a leadership role, confident without being cocky. In a world of superstar schmucks like Kobe Bryant, it was refreshing.

Unfortunately, it didn't last. Every season he seemed to whine more about fouls (or lack thereof), the complementary remarks about his competition and teammates became scarce, and he made sure that the camera was on him for every chalk clap. It was very un-Jordan-like, and that was disappointing. It reached a certain peak when they lost in the 2009 finals, as Lebron ran off the court without so much a handshake to anyone. Things have been different ever since.

Even though I never cared much for Shaq, as I've always felt his only real talent was his size (and the ability to jump around the league and tolerate teammates if it meant he could win). But I also felt that perhaps with his experience on championship teams he would have some positive impact on James, to teach him what it meant to win those championships. Heck, I gave him credit when he simply said in interviews, "This is Lebron's team."

I don't think he was much of a mentor though, or if he was, we would've seen a different Lebron James this year. He was aloof in interviews, inconsistent on the court, and never took responsibility for anything. Maybe the pressure of the expectations was getting to him, but any player that is truly great certainly wouldn't make comments like, "I can't score 30 points every game."

It all fell apart in that last series, and it's like he wasn't even there for the last game. The truth is the he didn't deserve to even be there. I feel bad for his teammates, most of whom were slightly above average, but clearly loved the game. Z, Andy and the rest, they looked up to him.

When Michael Jordan came out of retirement, the whole affair was settled with a simple press release that simply said, "I'm back." He didn't schedule an hour-long show on ESPN, asking for the anchors to suck him off the whole time. But that's what Lebron did. It was a narcissistic and masturbatory performance of the worst kind. It wasn't about the game anymore, it was about him enjoying some inappropriate touching (and ESPN should be kicked in the nuts for agreeing to a ratings grab like that devoid of any actual journalism).

As someone who moved out of Cleveland last year and saw very little of the regular season on TV, I was already somewhat detached. That he's leaving Cleveland is not something I'm all that bent up about. What saddens me is that a brilliantly talented kid from Akron had the opportunity to restore some kind of integrity to professional sports, but instead tattooed "chosen 1" on his back and chose to be the kind of douchebag that makes you dislike pro athletes.

I often wonder what would have happened if he had to play in college first. Jordan left after three years, but there's no doubt that the experience drastically altered his maturity level for the better. Heck, he did go back to finish his degree after two years. What made Jordan great was the patience and loyalty to a city and a team, to see things through. Lebron James will never have that opportunity now, and frankly on a team with another superstar, is more likely to be D-Wade's Pippen than a Jordan, or even a douchebag Kobe.

By the way, I'm completely amused by Dan Gilbert's letter to fans. It reads a little like a psycho-ex-girlfriend's letter, but at least it calls James out for what he is.

Evening Magazine

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 8, 2010, 7:37 PM | comments: 0

I know I've expressed my concern over the years about how unfortunate it has been to see the decline of local radio and television. Perhaps it's the idealist in me that really valued the way a broadcast license was once treated. Local programming and ownership was justified, and regulated, because the license was considered something the public owned, a scarce resource, and therefore something that the licensee was obligated to respect.

So back in the day, the FCC could require that blocks of time would be required to set aside for local stuff. A great staple of this time slot for many years was the evening magazine-style show. I remember in Cleveland that the dominant one on when I was a kid was called "PM Magazine" on what used to be the CBS affiliate (they're Fox now). I would go as far as to say that it had a lot to do with why I cared so much for Cleveland, despite living in the scary inner-city, because it showed what the city really had to offer. Most shows like that are long gone now.

Imagine my surprise when we were channel surfing here in Seattle, shortly after moving here, to see Evening Magazine on the local NBC affiliate. While the host has hair appropriate for the 80's show I remember, it generally has the same format, and the quality of the segments is really quite excellent. It's mostly lighter fare, of course, but so what? It beats the crap out of the Inside Edition crap that's on right after. We've seen quite a bit of stuff on there that led us to say, "Oh, we need to check that out!"

I'm honestly completely shocked that this show is still on the air, and I think it would be a shame if they decided to can it. I have no idea what it costs to produce a show like that, but I bet it's cheaper than most news programming. I dig it because it's a little slice of what I thought was neat about TV growing up, and the kind of thing I always fancied myself doing if I stayed in TV.

Benefit to living in the bunker

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, July 7, 2010, 7:20 PM | comments: 0

According to my car's thermometer, it was 90 degrees today, and it was awesome. Not having air conditioning in the apartment turned out to not be a big deal. We're on the north side of the building, with lots of trees and a retaining wall about four feet high and mostly ten feet from the exterior wall. Diana kept the windows closed all day, and it was outright cool inside. Finally, a positive to living in this apartment! Bring on more 90 degree days!

Five things I miss about Cleveland

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 6, 2010, 9:47 PM | comments: 0

The warmer weather has brought some harsh feelings of "something is missing" for us. Diana was telling me today how Facebook is so essential to keeping some kind of connection with the world. I can only imagine how hard it is for her, since she doesn't go to a job every day (I'm thankful for her PEPS group in that respect). For me, I'm not looking at Facebook as much as I'd like to, and when I do, I feel like I'm mostly talking and not listening. It's a weird thing to love the changes in your life while hating the things you no longer have.

There are actually five specific things that I miss, in no particular order...

Cedar Point
This has been harder than I expected. It's not an issue of the rides, mind you, but more the location and concentration of interaction with friends there. I mean, my best man works there, it's the place I immediately went following traumatic events in my life like my first layoff and separation, nearly every romantic partner in my life had some involvement there... it just ended up being the center the universe for so many unexpected reasons. And yes, Millennium Force is there. It's taking everything I've got to not go out there for the GKTW fundraiser.

Hot Tub
Despite my hot tub being the location for various things like first kisses and other assorted naughty things, it's actually the quiet solitude that it provided me that I miss. In the winter, getting naked in 25 degrees with snow on the deck, taking those three steps under the starry sky into that 100 degree water... that was amazing every time. In the summer, believe it or not, scaling it back to 97 degrees was outright refreshing, and I'd get out there in the middle of the day and make vitamin D. But the real win was the zen-like state it left me in, what with the regular shooting stars or the sound of critters in the woods when the timer turned off the jets.

Winking Lizard
There was nothing "special" about food at the Winking Lizard, but that was kind of the point. It was all pretty typical stuff, but the best typical stuff you could have. We became regulars at the Brunswick location after it opened, and got into a regular pattern of dinners with certain friends as well. We'd take out-of-town family there. We'd hit the more exotic locations like downtown before a Cavs game, or the Peninsula store to take in some National Park scenery. Like CP, it became one of the places that we made synonymous with friends. It fits in a category with places like Tommy's and Melt, and even BWW, despite being a national chain.

Five Dollar Movies
OK, so this one doesn't count as much, since I couldn't do it even if I wanted to now, being a dad and all. The Cinemark at the mall in the next town was only $5 for the first matinee, every day. It was a really comfortable theater too, with generally good sound systems. I saw a lot of movies last summer, pretty much one every week. Some of them ended up not being very good, but it didn't matter. It was a ritual I really enjoyed.

I should probably qualify it as summer weather. All of the bullshit about Seattle being a rainy suicide-driven place is nonsense. Of course it rains a lot in the winter... that's because it doesn't snow! It's almost Florida-like in its winter precipitation, because you generally get peeks of sun in between the rain. Cleveland winter can give you snow and gray skies for weeks on end. Summer, so far, has been cold. I actually wore a jacket on July 1, and that sucks. I miss the heat and humidity that feels so good coming out of an air conditioned building that felt so good to go into. I miss thunderstorms that shake your house, with lightning that shows how awesome nature's light show can be.

Again, I have to be clear that I'm not particularly unhappy or miserable here, I just want it all. The starting-over factor here is hard, when your friend circles are tiny and you have virtually no history rooted in the place you live. That's weird for someone who spent 36 years in one area. I can't wait for our fall events, when we can get the band back together, so to speak.

Life refactoring

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, July 6, 2010, 3:23 PM | comments: 0

This is an awesome re-post that Tyler made. It helps you put into perspective how easy it is to get caught up in things that don't matter.

I can really relate to so much in that post. I started to make some of those changes in the separation/divorce era. I remember feeling like having two keys was liberating (and I'd have only one if I didn't have a keyed mailbox). Getting away from TV for noise is something I did too, realizing it was like an old standby to what my parents did. I'm a zero-inbox guy. If I don't act on it, it's probably not important enough to hang around.

I wouldn't say that I agree with everything though. I mean, I love music and movies, for the explicit reason that they do evoke an emotional response. Feeling is living and inspiration to me. I can never have enough of those things.

The remarkable thing about life for anyone who embraces technology is that there are plenty of excuses to allow its noise to consume you. I think for some people, it's just easier. I may consume limited amounts of that noise, but the thing I desire most is deeper, more meaningful experiences. Whether that means laughing with Simon for an hour or writing a long blog post about something, it doesn't matter. Depth matters to me. It makes life, well, deeper. :)

The weather whining begins!

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 5, 2010, 11:18 PM | comments: 0

It's supposed to be in the 80's all week, and may even flirt with 90 on Thursday. I'm stoked. Overnight lows around 60, so I can roll with that even without A/C. But the hilarities are just starting! Here's the statement from the National Weather Service:


I don't care if people aren't used to it, because I still think people here are overly dramatic about weather. I mean, the entire spread of possible temperatures here are well within the range of what the human body can put up with. The 40's to 90 are not intolerable. I went all winter without even wearing my winter coat.

Suck it up, Seattle... go play in the sprinklers!

All my children, er, sites

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 5, 2010, 9:42 PM | comments: 0

Another month is in the books, and I took a few moments to see how we were doing with traffic and revenue and all that. June was a pretty good month.

CoasterBuzz did better than I expected. In terms of year-over-year growth I wasn't expecting much since the site hasn't fundamentally changed in any particular way, either by my doing or by the composition of the regulars in the community. It still had page views up an astonishing 16% over last year and visits up a more modest 8%. Pages per visit are now up to 5.25, and keep in mind that includes the drive-by 40% who land there somehow and leave. The average non-logged in user still views 4.25 pages, and that's surprising. Not surprising, CoasterBuzz Club members view about 15 pages per visit. Club members account for 15% of all page views.

PointBuzz is holding steady on page views, with a rounding error of a decline, but is up over 10% on visitors. I really expected a slide this year because Cedar Point didn't open a new coaster, but not opening the new water ride might have been good for us. Go figure. Pages per visit is down to 7.27, but that's still pretty solid for any site.

The big story this year is ad revenue. It's back. Really back. Literally double what it was last year, and most of that story is from Google. I can't tell exactly what gets run, but it looks like there's a lot of spending from Disney, Las Vegas stuff and a number of dot-com-ish sites. I so could've used this last year when I was job-free, but better late than never, I suppose. The business will be in a debt-free state again probably by October. As thrilled as I am about this, I'm realistic, because experience has shown that the ad market can be very erratic, and economic recovery is not, as of yet, a slam dunk.

So what's the future like? Well, I still haven't launched that Disney site that Walt and I came up with over two years ago. It actually exists, and it's mostly functional, but the forums and photo galleries have not yet been styled. Something makes me uncomfortable about it too... the weird mix of Webforms and MVC (with no real testing). Working full-time in a world with solid unit testing and high maintainability has really become my curse to all things old in my own projects.

At one point, I figured that I'd like to get a new version of CoasterBuzz out within two years of the last one, but that means by September 1, and that ain't gonna happen. But perhaps if I got the new forum app in a usable state, the rat site could be the proving ground for it. I find myself hesitant in improving CoasterBuzz, I guess because I'm not sure of its growth potential.

I definitely want to build something new with my mess of domain names. Something that isn't another theme park site. Alas, there isn't enough time I can find.

Futurecasting aside, I'm pretty happy with how the existing sites are doing. That CB showed solid growth and PB didn't shrink without a new coaster definitely exceeds my expectations. And for Google to be kicking ass the way they are with ads, it definitely feels good to have this hobby.

Sleeping progress

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 5, 2010, 8:59 PM | comments: 0

I feel like we've had a bit of a breakthrough the last two nights. The night before, Simon slept about eight hours between feedings. Last night he did 9.5 hours, then did another three before being up for the day (naps aside). Granted, it could be influenced by his poor daytime napping skills, and he's having a lot of bouts of crabby as his two little teeth become more obvious. Still, it's progress.

It's all good news, but unfortunately we're kind of a mess. Diana is enduring some dizziness at times. I'm theorizing it's outright fatigue and lingering hormones, because her sleep patterns are awful and at times she has a hard time shutting off her brain. Plus, I don't want it to be a revisit of 2008's vertigo issues, particularly since we don't have the rocket scientist at Cleveland Clinic to go to. I can sympathize as well in terms of sleep issues, as Zyrtec kicked my ass for much of the weekend, and then last night I was on high alert waiting for Simon to get up so I could feed him and let Diana sleep. I never expected him to wait until 2:30 a.m.!

Sleep is still the hardest thing around here. It's easier for me during the week since I've gotta try and lock down seven hours on school nights or I'll be shit for work. (Don't even go there, Aaron!) Diana really gets the worst of it, and isn't a good napper because she always has something she wants to do or Simon won't stay asleep. It does take some work to stay positive, and know that Simon will eventually sleep overnight. Scheduling overall is hard. Even as I leave work by 4:30, I'm still lucky to get an hour or two with Simon, and Diana rolls into bed early because she has to, so family time just kinda sucks at times because it's so short. It'll get better, and we both know this.

If anything good came out of crappy weather this week and Simon's cranky teething time, it's that we all got to spend a lot of time together. I'll take it.

Simon is 4! (months, that is)

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 5, 2010, 2:08 PM | comments: 0

Oh how time flies! Our little guy is already four months old. In my last post, I mentioned how he's developing exceptionally fast. I can't believe how cute he is too. He's so ridiculous.

Life hasn't changed in any unexpected way really. What definitely hasn't happened is that we've given up all kinds of things about our life, as everyone suggests. Sure, you plan stuff out more than you used to, but we mostly do the same things we did before. We still go out for dinner or lunch (mostly lunch, because of our aversion to crowds). We're planning just as much travel as usual this year, perhaps more since we live so far away from everything. Simon has generally been additive to our lives, not a replacement for some of it.

He's "talking" in his crib right now, which means he's not doing a very good job at his afternoon nap. It's pretty adorable. Have to fight the temptation to go pick him up!

Developmentally advanced

posted by Jeff | Sunday, July 4, 2010, 5:50 PM | comments: 0

It's become almost a running joke now that every time we read about something regarding Simon's development, he's way, way ahead of where you'd expect. Between the teeth, the weight, length, quantity of food, etc., he's ahead of schedule in almost every way.

Of course, like any parents, we worry about everything when it comes to him. With Diana, it's more about is he getting enough [insert need here], whereas my concerns are more long-term, like whether or not he gets the right kind of mental stimulation or if he's ready to start counting. I know we over-think a lot of things, when at his age he's still pretty straight forward to care for.

We're in a food transition now. Diana has tried some oatmeal cereal with him, and he seems to understand eating non-liquid pretty well. Last night even went eight hours between feeding, which is nearly a record (and what Dr. Cargo Pants expected). Our hope is that he settles into a pattern of less frequent eating, but more quantity each time, so that his sleep is more consistent. That's partly for our sanity, but it's also where he should be headed.

In terms of other development characteristics, it seems like he does something new every single day. His babbling includes new sounds almost daily (as does his shrieking when he's not happy). His hand control is getting really solid too, to the extent that he's getting close to the point where he can put his pacifier in his mouth himself. He can stand while supported, though he gets bored and reverts to noodle legs. He definitely recognizes the picture books Diana reads to him before bed. He recognizes the TV as a place where stuff happens, though we're trying to not expose him to it in excess.

It's really exciting to see this stuff going on, and like I said, it seems like there's something new constantly. He's growing up so fast!

Jeff Putz Day 2010

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 3, 2010, 10:50 PM | comments: 0

I'm 37 now. Reminds me of that scene from Singles, where Janet says she thought we'd all have flying cars and what not by now (though I think she was 23 or something). I have a Prius now, which doesn't even sound like it's running half of the time. Does that count for something?

I don't like to make a big deal of birthdays anymore. When I was 10, I just wanted Lego sets no one could afford. When I was 12, all I could think about was getting sweet Transformers. When I was in high school, I just wanted money (and a girlfriend). In college, I just wanted to get back to school. The only really epic adult birthday party I ever had was my 30th, which was a bright spot in an otherwise tumultuous time.

I didn't explicitly say that I didn't want anything for my birthday to Diana, but she peeped at my Amazon wishlist and got some stuff anyway. I already blogged about the toaster. She also got me the little Lego Space Needle, which I've been eyeing since before we moved. Now I have it!

Since we have two "floating holidays" at work per year, and it seemed appropriate to use those before vacation days, I took my second one for my birthday, to make for a nice four-day weekend. The timing was right too, because work really burned me out a bit the last few weeks, as I haven't really had my hands in anything new. That'll probably change as we go into the next few months.

Originally, we were just going to see Toy Story with a set of free tickets and gift card I got from work. Then I got e-mail the night before from Gold Class saying I could get in free for my birthday, so we dropped off Simon with Uncle Joe and tried for the single showing of Iron Man 2 around noon. I didn't read the fine print though, and I couldn't use the birthday freebie on a Friday. Crap. Fortunately, the "concierge" was sympathetic, and since they hadn't sold a single seat for that show, she let us in. I had this great chicken sandwich made with actual Anchor Bar (from Buffalo) sauce. We also got some white cheddar popcorn. It was pretty yummy overall, and without any alcohol and only paying for one person, we got out of there for about $70. It's so worth it, I don't care what anyone thinks. That we had the entire theater to ourselves made it that much more special.

When we got back to Joe's, Simon was still sleeping, so we hung out for awhile. They have the most ridiculously comfortable couch ever. I get so sleepy over there when I sprawl out on it. I love seeing Simon's cousins too. Mason is every bit as cute as Simon, but you'd never know he was three months older were it not for his hair. I look so forward to the time when the three cousins are old enough to play together. Nina is well on her way, and so tall! (Relative to her size a year ago, of course.)

When we got Simon to bed at home, we popped in Kissing Jessica Stein, as it's one of the few movies from my favorites list that Diana has not seen. It was a wonderfully relaxed evening.

As with every other annual event in the last year or so, I'm overwhelmed to think about the change since the last instance of the event. On my last birthday, we went down to Ashland and roamed around the university, where I was overwhelmed by all of the feelings and memories associated with going to school there. Then the next day, I met up with ICOM friends and bought an iPhone 3GS to upgrade. All the while, I was still "self-employed."

This year, I don't feel like I'm able to really commemorate anything. So few things are truly familiar anymore. I'm not suggesting that it's a bad thing, it's just remarkably different. The real gifts in life, which is not to say I didn't deliberately obtain them, are my little boy, my new home town and my new job. I still struggle a bit with the fact that I can't have all of this, and my Cleveland life as well, but it's positive change overall. I just miss my friends, my amusement parks and even the house I can't sell. Oh, and I miss my hot tub.

For the rest of the weekend, things are kind of up in the air. With Simon eating quasi-solid food, his sleep routines, however sketchy they were, are out of whack, and you know how we like to get him moving toward routine. One of my friends from work invited us out to see July 4th stuff a few towns over, but I guess it depends on which times everyone is awake. If there aren't fireworks visible from where we are, I suspect we won't see any. I'd love to go up to the park-and-ride in the highlands next door, as I bet we could see many fireworks, all over the east side.

So if you're supposed to be reflective on your birthday, rest assured, I am. And I'm thankful for everything that has worked for us in the last year. I really feel like I'm starting to get good at life. :)

Precision toasting excellence

posted by Jeff | Saturday, July 3, 2010, 10:50 AM | comments: 0

About a year or so ago, I saw this toaster in Wired that seemed like the ultimate toaster. And since it cost more than a hundred bucks, it sure as hell better be. I put it on my Amazon wish list, not so much because I intended to buy it, but just because. I mean, my old toaster is something I've had since I moved into my first apartment, 14 years ago. It still more or less worked.

But I won't have to worry about burning bagels anymore. Diana bought me the Breville Die-Cast Smart Toaster. It seems nearly absurd to pay that much for a toaster, but with servo motors and LED's, what can I say, it's something to behold. I absolutely love it, however unnecessary it might be.

Fear and change

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 2, 2010, 10:21 PM | comments: 0

The obligatory birthday post will come at some point this weekend, or maybe this week (since Jeff Putz week does, in fact, last a week), but an unexpected phone call this morning put me in a bit of a reflective mood that really framed the rest of the day.

A friend is about to embark on what is arguably the biggest change of his life professionally, and perhaps personally as well. You know, I have a little experience with this recently, so he wanted to pick my brain about a couple of things. The read that I got from him was that the change was reasonably sudden, fairly drastic, and frankly a bit scary. I have a little experience with that recently.

While this quite naturally made me think a great deal about the last 15 months or so of my own life, I think what brought me around to my own though process was watching Kissing Jessica Stein tonight. One of the themes of the film is that you can't truly know what's possible if you shut down the possibilities, both in terms of your personal life (not dating around a bit, and settling for crap relationships) and your professional life (never actually attempting to do things you're passionate about). I'm not sure what causes us to avoid those possibilities.

One could theorize it's fear of failure. Or fear of the unfamiliar. Or more than likely, fear of dramatic change. I think that's the big show stopper.

A great many friends are not as happy as they could be, because they fear change. They settle for jobs and relationships and even locales because the mediocrity or suboptimal scenario beats the fear caused by trying to change those things. As much as I sound like I might be criticizing people for that, I'm certainly no better. Half of my big life changes were induced by someone else (namely my divorce and an impossible employment scene in Cleveland). I'm not one to talk, but now that I've seen that light, I'm not one who can ever allow myself to be that complacent. Ever.

So don't wait for a birthday, new year, anniversary or whatever to be reflective and ask yourself if your fear of change is keeping you comfortable in something less than you're capable of. Fucking do it now. When you can beat the fear, you're no longer a spectator in your own life.

Birthdays in the Facebook age

posted by Jeff | Friday, July 2, 2010, 6:57 PM | comments: 0

From my e-mail...

Simon's delicious happytime

posted by Jeff | Thursday, July 1, 2010, 10:03 PM | comments: 0

Yesterday, our little boy did his best to test his mommy with a good solid hour of screaming. We theorize that he's making adjustments to some rice cereal (which he clearly doesn't like), and that may have made him uncomfortable or crampy or something.

Today though, Simon was mostly awesome all day. Diana also got some oatmeal cereal, which he seems to like and understand that it's food. He did a really good job today eating, and we're hoping that extra substantial food is one of the keys to longer sleeping patterns. That's Dr. Cargo Pants' theory too, given the insane amount of formula he now requires.

He was such a happy little boy today though, and he was making such good eye contact with me. Because I generally have only an hour or two with him in the evenings (and to give Diana a break from being with him all day), I try to be as hands on as I can with the bottle feeding, changing and baths. He was just so cute today though, more than normal. He was giving happy shrieks on the changing table and giggling. He loves splashing in the tub too, and didn't even protest too much when we dried him off and got him dressed.

After his bath, we had a nice wind down on the couch with him, as Diana sang some of his favorites ("Wheels on the Bus," "Itsy Bitsy Spider"). Big smiles all the way to bed. He even spent some time talking to the stuffed animals on or in his crib after we closed the door.

My little guy just doesn't disappoint when he's being cute!